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Can you get Social Security using an ex-spouse’s work record?

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2022 | High-net Worth Divorce |

Like many other married individuals living in California, you may have made certain professional sacrifices after you married and started a family. In some cases, making these professional sacrifices might make you ineligible for Social Security retirement benefits once you come of age. However, you may have the option of collecting Social Security retirement benefits using the work record of a former husband or wife once your marriage ends, provided you meet certain eligibility criteria.

According to CNBC, an estimated 30% of Americans are not aware that they may be able to obtain Social Security retirement benefits using the work histories of their former spouses. You may be eligible to do this if the following applies to your situation.

Qualifying for your ex’s Social Security retirement benefits

Your former husband or wife has to be eligible for Social Security retirement benefits for you to be able to use his or her record to collect them yourself. Whether he or she is eligible depends on how much time he or she spent working in a professional role Social Security covers. If your ex does qualify, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years for you to collect then using your ex’s earnings history.

Collecting your ex’s Social Security retirement benefits

Should you decide to collect these benefits based on your former husband or wife’s work record, your decision to do so is not going to hurt your former partner’s income. Instead, he or she receives the same payment amount every month, regardless of whether you collect these benefits using his or her record.

If you collect these benefits using your ex’s record, as opposed to your own, the most you might take home each month is half of what your former spouse does.